1 vote

Basiliere Bridge


Ralph T. Basiliere Bridge

Photo taken by Douglas Butler in November 2014

License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)


BH Photo #410201

Street View 


Deck plate girder bascule bridge over Merrimack River on Bridge Street (MA-125)
Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts
Open to traffic
Built 1925
- Boston Bridge Works of Boston, Massachusetts (Builder, Bascule Span)
- H.P. Converse Co. of Boston, Massachusetts (Contractor)
- R.R. Evans (Engineer)
- Strauss Bascule Bridge Co. of Chicago, Illinois (Design)
Deck plate girder bascule with concrete open spandrel deck arch approach spans.
Length of largest span: 80.1 ft.
Total length: 804.2 ft.
Deck width: 45.9 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.77361, -71.07667   (decimal degrees)
42°46'25" N, 71°04'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/330111/4737766 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory numbers
MA H12007 (Massachusetts bridge number)
BH 52660 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of December 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 18.8 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • April 18, 2021: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • October 16, 2020: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added builder and engineer.
  • March 31, 2020: Updated by Nick Boppel: Added categories "Merrimack River", "Navigable waterway", "Inoperable moveable bridge"
  • November 6, 2017: New photo from Luke
  • November 6, 2017: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • June 12, 2012: Added by Nathan Holth

Related Bridges 



Basiliere Bridge
Posted December 29, 2021, by Rory Giaedinella (rig0211 [at] comcast [dot] net)

i could tell that the Basiliere bridge was a draw bridge at one time because it sounds like it with tires going over it eveyday and in my opinion it should still be it doesn't make sense that its not anymore

Basiliere Bridge
Posted October 16, 2020, by Luke

"Navigable waters of the United States are those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce." - per the USCG

Basiliere Bridge
Posted October 16, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Huh, that's interesting. I don't know why sources are claiming that the Merrimack River isn't navigable, because it most certainly is navigable for recreational watercraft downstream of the hydroelectric dam in Lawrence (as the fact that the moveable bridges downstream of here are all operable would suggest).

Basiliere Bridge
Posted October 16, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This bridge is a Strauss bascule bridge, BUT the bridge does not operate for boats and it never has according to the Historic American Engineering Record, despite being designed as a bascule by Strauss.

Source of below text: https://books.google.com/books?id=GWtOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onep...

"The draw mechanism was never installed, since the plan to make the Merrimack River navigable from Newburyport to Lowell never was implemented."

Basiliere Bridge
Posted October 15, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Sorry I'm just seeing this now. I don't think that is accurate. Based on my observations, it appears that the bridge was made to be moveable and that the mechanics were originally installed. I'm not sure whether the bridge actually operated for boat traffic or not, or whether the mechanics remain in place today.

The Merrimack River is navigable at least from its mouth in Newburyport up to Lawrence. The Gillis Memorial Bridge, Derek S. Hines Bridge, Rocks Village Bridge, and Bates Bridge are all moveable bridges that remain in active operation downstream of the Basiliere Bridge - and the fixed bridges between the Basiliere and Lawrence are all high enough to permit most recreational watercraft through. The Basiliere does have a higher clearance above the water even when lowered compared to the other bridges downstream, which makes me wonder if the bridge did indeed ever open for marine traffic under normal conditions, or if it perhaps only needed to operate during high water/flood conditions.

The river is not navigable through Lawrence due to the presence of the hydroelectric dam and waterfall at the O'Leary Bridge on MA-28 a short distance west of downtown. Both canals in Lawrence and their respective gatehouses/locks that would be used to bypass the dam are no longer in operation. However, the river does remain navigable between the top of the Lawrence dam and Manchester, NH (with Pawtucket Falls in Lowell remaining in active operation including at least one of the gatehouses). The lock and bypass channel at Amoskeag Falls in Manchester has been filled in and therefore the river is not navigable upstream of Manchester.

In summary, the Merrimack River has essentially two separate navigable sections, separated by the dam in Lawrence. As such, it would be plausible that the Basiliere Bridge was previously operable, though it is evident that it is no longer in operation today except perhaps during emergencies, given my field observations.

Basiliere Bridge
Posted August 16, 2020, by Emil Geithner (egkg1 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I remember reading that the Basiliere Bridge has never actually opened. My understanding is that as the bridge was being built, the plan was to make the Merrimack navigable up to Lawrence (which clearly never happened), and the machinery to operate the bridge was never installed.

If I find a citation to verify this, I'll post it here.

Basiliere Bridge
Posted March 31, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Just confirming that I am the one who posted the comment below shortly after my visit to this bridge last fall. As I've thought about it more and looked through my photos, it is evident to me that the bridge has not operated for routine water traffic in some time. As I noted, the former steel grate deck on the bascule span has been filled with concrete, and the operators tower has been chained shut. Both of these alterations do not appear to be recent. Additionally, the lack of any traffic signals or gates on the approaches suggests that the bridge is not active.

This is interesting because both the Bates Bridge and the Rocks Village Bridge downstream are both still operable.

Basiliere Bridge
Posted September 15, 2019, by Anonymous

I don't think that the bascule span of this bridge still operates except maybe during flood conditions... I visited the bridge today and the steel grate deck of the moveable span has been filled in with concrete and the operators house tower has been chained shut.